Pulver dashes Foley’s sevens dream

ARU boss Bill Pulver has all but scuppered Bernard Foley’s audacious bid to represent Australia at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

And for that matter any dreams that code-hopping superstar Israel Folau may harbour of chasing gold medal glory with the national rugby sevens team.

While Pulver last week granted Foley its first-ever “flexible contract”, which will allow the Test five-eighth to play two seasons in Japan over the next three years, the ARU won’t be allowing players to double up for the Wallabies and Olympics in 2016.

Pulver says the likes of Foley and Folau need to choose one or the other.

“We’ve got the wonderful situation of having an outstanding international 15s game and an outstanding international sevens game,” Pulver said at the annual AAP Sports Editors’ Conference in Sydney.

“I think there’s every possibility that there will be some 15s player representation in the Olympic team, but it’s not yet clear who that will be.

“But to get there, first and foremost they need to be eager to do it.

“Second, we need to manage a contract situation around that and third, frankly, they have to be prepared to give up a Super Rugby and Wallabies season.”

Pulver pointed out that next year’s Super Rugby final would probably take place at the beginning of August, a week before the Rio Games commence.

“So there’s really no compromise,” Pulver said.

“If you want to go to the Olympics, you have to be prepared to walk away from the entire 15-man season. That is what it is.

“We’ll be negotiating with those players who are eager to go. Then you’ve got to marry that up with who the (sevens) coach (Geraint John) wants to pick.”

Even if Folau wanted to pursue any Olympic dream next year, it would seem incomprehensible that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would allow him to leave.

Pulver on Tuesday also revealed the ARU was only prepared to issue up to five flexible contracts.

With Foley having snapped up the first and the ARU ready to hand one to Folau, the hottest property in Australian rugby, that only leaves three more for the likes of off-contract stars Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, David Pocock, James Slipper and company to request.

“I suspect you’ll be able to count the number of flexible contracts on one hand,” Pulver said.

“It will be very limited. It’s something new for us that we are trialling. We are most concerned about the player welfare issue.

“There is such a physical impact at the elite level in our game that we have to manage player welfare very, very carefully.”

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